Saturday, May 31, 2014

California Fish Tacos

When visiting California many years ago, I was truly amazed at the number of fish taco stands and trucks there were. "How come I never heard of this before?" I wondered.
Yes that's guacamole on the side!
If I thought about it for a minute, I probably would have figured it out on my own. California has an ocean to the west that runs from the south to the north. Where there's an ocean there's fish and a lot of them. So it just makes sense. I should also point out that my good friend had a son who wanted to start a taco truck business in Australia. I did a little research and found that it had great potential in Australia, but not so much in California.
True Cod and Char Crust "Amazin' Cajun" Blackening Seasoning
Recently I went to my daughter, the chef to ask her about fish taco's. Many do have lettuce, cabbage or a slaw on them, but it is not required. Most any seasoning will do but I prefer a Char Crust blackening spice.
Let the spice rub get cozy with the fish
When I went to get the fish I was looking for mahi-mahi, or tilapia,  neither of which they had. What they did have was fresh Alaskan true cod, which is wild caught, available year round and sustainable. Make sure the fish filet is uniform in thickness so that it cooks evenly.
What do you really need? Other than the fish, the other ingredients include corn or flour tortilla's and for the fish you're going to need a great seasoning. Cajun spice seems to be a popular one. Next up is some kind of salsa (rojas or verde) and some pica de gallo. Do you like cilantro? Many people don’t and think it tastes like dish soap. No problem, just pick up some curly, or Italian parsley. This is a great substitution for cilantro. Don't forget to get some fresh limes! A fresh lime squeezed over fish taco’s adds a fresh taste that can’t be achieved by bottled lime juice.
Pica De Gallo, Salsa Rojas, Queso Fresco Red Cabbage
Sprinkle the fish liberally with olive oil or butter on both sides, and then massage the spices into the fish. Let the fish sit for about 15-30 minutes to allow the flavor to develop. 
Preheat the lightly oiled cast iron pan or griddle until really hot. Place the fish into the hot pan. Cook the fish on the bottom for 2-3 minutes until that side becomes opaque half way up develops the blackened crust (not burnt). Using a fish spatula carefully flip the fish over and cook this side as you did for side one. Do not touch the fish for at least 2-4 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.
Developing that blackened look
Carefully lift one corner to see if it is grilled to perfection. Carefully remove it from the pan to a cutting board or a platter. Stop what you're doing and take a picture. A properly blackened piece of fish really is a thing of beauty. Let the fish rest for a couple of minutes while you cook some tortilla's. I used the min-corn tortillas.
Okay this looks delicious.
Drizzle or spray the pan or griddle with oil and place your tortillas on it. Just heat them until they get some color on them but are still soft and pliable. Some people use one tortilla per taco and some use two. Whatever floats your boat. It really doesn't matter.
Flip these over and lightly brown side two. Once all of your tortillas are ready begin assembling your fish taco's. Fold the tortilla in half and place a dollop of the salsa in the center of the shell and then some of the grilled fish. Spoon some of the pico de gallo over the fish, a little more salsa. Drizzle with some fresh sour cream or crema and then sprinkle with crumbled Queso Fresco. Put 3-4 tacos per person on the plate and add a good dollop of guacamole on the plate as a garnish.
True cod fish tacos

What to serve with this meal? How about some fresh corn on the cob? Never worry about making to much corn. If you have left-overs why not whip up some green corn tamales.
Where did I put the butter?

Apparently the method of blackening, was discovered or started by New Orleans Chef Paul Prudhomme. The first time I had blackened anything, it was a steak, and it was burnt. My first thought was that anyone can burn a steak. Then I had a steak that was blackened, but not burnt, and it was delicious. The secret is not to let whatever it is that you’re cooking burn. It is the caramelization of the fat and spices on the fish that you're after. That being said, why not try blackened steak or chicken taco's next time?
© TMelle 2014

No comments: